Wednesday, March 04, 2009

VISION 101 (part 3)

Grace Church is all about meeting people where they are and moving them to where God wants them to be. By saying that we want to meet people where they are, we are saying that we want to meet them where they are spiritually. Every person is somewhere on their spiritual journey. Some people are far from knowing Christ, while others are very near committing to a personal relationship with Jesus. Some are new believers, while others are growing deeper in their faith.

We don’t want to be a church that says that you have to clean up your act and get all your spiritual i’s dotted and t’s crossed before your can enter our doors. No. We will meet you right where you are at. We will love you just like you are and accept you as a person. However, we will not condone your sin and we will teach you the truth of God’s Word. We won’t shy away from that. Why? Because it is the Word of God that can change your life. Paul told the church at Rome that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of Christ (Romans 10:17). But we will start the process by meeting you where you are at.

One of my mentors in ministry pastored a large and very conservative church in Grand Rapids, Michigan. One day at one of their Elder meetings they were discussing this question, “If Jesus came to Grand Rapids this Sunday, what church would He attend?” They decided that it would probably not be theirs or anyone else’s for that matter. In looking at the pattern of Jesus in Scripture, they concluded that He would probably spend His time with the group of people in the community that no church was having anything to do with…the homosexual community.

Now you have to keep in mind that this was nearly two decades ago, before even Hollywood was publicizing the gay issue. So my mentor met with the leader of the gay movement in Grand Rapids. He said, “Look, we are not going to agree on sexuality. So putting that aside, how can we as a church minister to the gay community of Grand Rapids without condoning their sexual behavior?”

As a result, their church started an amazing outreach to gays in their community that resulted in many coming to faith in Christ. This simply was not being done by churches two decades ago. It started a firestorm inside and outside his church. One prominent Christian leader called him up and said, “What are you doing? Your church is going to get overrun with homosexuals!” My mentor replied, “That’s great! They can sit right next to all the coveters, liars and adulterers that fill my pews each Sunday!”

I admire this mentor because he had the guts to lead his church in meeting people and moving people in spite of the criticism they received. I want to have that kind of guts as a pastor and a leader. I don’t want Grace Church to play it safe. I want us to grab hold of a vision of what God can and will do through us and to give our very lives to it. Meeting people and moving people…what could possibly be better?

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